Thoughts on this Portable Solar Setup

I want a small portable solar setup for camping, tailgating, emergencies and just learning.

Here is what I'm thinking about buying.

1. Brunton 26Watt Foldable Solar Array (http://www.amazon.com/Brunton-Watt-Foldable-Solar-Array/dp/B000GEFFBO/)

and

2. Duracell Powerpack 600 (http://www.amazon.com/Duracell-DPP-600HD-Powerpack-Starter-Emergency/dp/B000TKHMWK/)


What are your thoughts about this setup? Would I need a charge controller to regulate the charging of the Powerpack or could I just plug it straight in?

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Comments

  • BB.BB. admin Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,629 admin
    Re: Thoughts on this Portable Solar Setup

    My two cents is to stay away from the all-in-one Inverter unit and look at building the pieces yourself that meet your requirements. Sizing the inverter and battery to your needs, and forgetting the other items (radio/etc.)...

    Generally these inverter/battery guys have too large of inverter for the battery capacity... If you pull 600 watts, the 28 AH battery will probably last 15 minutes or so--and die.

    And, if you could get this to work, it would take a 26 watt panel very roughly three summer sunny days to recharge the battery for your 600 watts @ 15 minute usage.

    Problem is that lead acid batteries are heavy and not very dense energy storage (for their weight). To drag along camping--I am not sure it is worth it.

    If you need portable power--perhaps this thread would be a better choice (you would be on the leading/bleeding edge of tech--so there will be some learning curves and possibly problems along the way):

    Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries; LFP; LiFePO4 discussions

    Regarding the folding panel--If it meets your needs, great. A larger, fixed, crystalline solar panel will be 1/3 the price and roughly 2x as efficient at gathering energy (per square foot). But, hauling around a "2'x3' aluminum framed window" is not an ideal camping companion either.

    In the end, start by defining the loads, peak watts/amps, voltage required, how much power--Watts*Hours and such first... Then look at what hardware you will need to meet your needs.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 admin Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Thoughts on this Portable Solar Setup

    Thanks for your feedback BB.

    Do you think I would need a charge controller in this type of setup or could I just plug the panel straight in?
  • BB.BB. admin Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,629 admin
    Re: Thoughts on this Portable Solar Setup

    If you are planning on charging at less than 5% of the battery Amp*Hour capacity for the short term (week's camping, etc.)--you can probably save the extra weight of a charge controller.
    • 1.4 amps / 0.05 = 28 AH maximum battery without charge controller...
    If you are planning on leaving the battery on for weeks+ on the the solar charger and/or you are planning on using sealed/AGM batteries--you probably should get a charge controller to limit the voltage ("boiling small flooded cell batteries dry" or causing sealed batteries to vent).

    The panel appears to be an 18.6 volt * 1.4 amp (Vmp*Imp) 26 watt panel--so having a solar charger when charging smaller batteries will be a necessity to prevent battery damage or damaging your 12 volt electronic devices.

    You can get this little 4.5 amp maximum charge controller (14.1 volt setting)--roughly a 2" cube and 3 oz.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • SkykoSkyko ✭✭✭✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 121 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Thoughts on this Portable Solar Setup

    I am a little late responding, but this is a very good 26 watt panel. It is 1 pound 10 ounces and about the size of a small book. I have one and have tested it extensively. I would use it on my sailboat but I need 150 watts or more, which would be a lot of these.
  • System2System2 admin Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Thoughts on this Portable Solar Setup

    I just bought that same 26W solar panel and am awaiting its delivery - it got fantastic ratings on Amazon for its power generation, compact size, and durability - paid $233. I am also looking into using it with a LiFePO4 battery, though I have not yet figured out whether to go with a 20Ah or a 40Ah battery. My primary use is for camping and powering a 1.2A device so 20Ah should be enough for a weekend for my purposes. But I think as I get into this more I will want the additional battery capacity. This controller, however, does not mention the use of these batteries in its specification sheet so I am going to call the manufacturer and see what they say. I don't see why they would not work...
  • CariboocootCariboocoot ✭✭ Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Thoughts on this Portable Solar Setup

    When you say it got fantastic ratings for its power output; what does that mean? It's a 26W panel, so it's capable of 26 Watts (which isn't fantastic). I supposed that's as opposed to certain "HF" panels which don't come near their rated output.

    Price? Look what $239 will buy: http://store.solar-electric.com/poup40wasoel.html

    I don't mean to knock the panel as I don't have any personal experience with them and others who do have already stated their satisfaction. It's just that you do need to do research and keep a slightly pessimistic & cynical attitude so that you don't become the next victim of the all-too-common solar hype out there.

    Usage notes: 26W panel would probably be just enough to handle that 20 Amp/hr battery, not so good on the 40. And when you say you use 1.2 Amps ... for how long? On the 20 Amp/hr, you'd have about 8 hours use max at that rate. That would be to 50% charge. Remember you can't go to 100% or you have no battery; it'll stop recharging permanently!

    Maybe you should get two of those panels and the 40 Amp/hr battery. That's give you a good 'safety margin' for a two day camping trip! :D Enjoy!
  • System2System2 admin Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Thoughts on this Portable Solar Setup

    I looked into this same setup but the Duracell system is cheap and according to most reviews won't last more than a year or two. I too am looking to build my own system using that solar panel...
  • SkykoSkyko ✭✭✭✭✭ Solar Expert Posts: 121 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Thoughts on this Portable Solar Setup

    That other panel you linked is 26" x 21" rigid..and is probably 10 lbs.

    The brunton solaris 26 watt panel folds up to slightly larger than a paperback and is just a bit over 1.5 pounds.

    I don't think there is any comparison. You might as well have linked how a cesna is a better deal than a lambo.
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